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Daniel Munslow - The power of ethics in reputational resilience


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Communicators need to take a stand on ethical, transparent, and professional communication in a world where “alternative facts” and “fake news” have become commonplace expressions. 2017 saw one of the biggest cases of ethics in PR since the turn of the century – in the form of the Bell Pottinger scandal. The manner in which numerous global crises were handled, such as United Airlines in the US and Ford in South Africa, has highlighted the role of ethical communication and the importance of robust, transparent and timely PR in building, maintaining and enhancing reputational resilience.

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Daniel Munslow - The power of ethics in reputational resilience

  1. 1. Facilitator: Daniel Munslow The Power Of Ethics In Reputational Resilience Director, MCC Consulting Director, IABC IEB Outgoing chair, IABC Africa Global Advisory Council, GCR April 2018
  2. 2. 2 Director, MCC Consulting Director, IABC IEB Outgoing chair, IABC Africa Advisory Council, Holmes Report International and local speaker Worked across Africa, Middle East, Europe, US, AsiaPac Consulted to local and multinational companies, as well as the United Nations Specialises in internal communication and employee engagement, stakeholder engagement, reputation management, executive and leadership communication, crisis communication, research and measurement. FACILITATOR © 2018 MCC CONSULTING ALL RIGHTS RESERVED Iraq LA Toronto JNB Bangkok
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  5. 5. 5 Responsible business communication practices benefit all the stakeholders in business macro environment. Good business communication practices should be seen as a market advantage. Correlation between Ethics and Trust
  6. 6. 6 Loss of Trust in Business: I don't know which companies or brands to trust Source: 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer, slide 26
  7. 7. 7 Business Is Expected to Lead Source: 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer, slide 26
  8. 8. 8 In SA, what does PRISA’s code of conduct say about ethics? ▪ Positive duty to maintain integrity and accuracy ▪ Not knowingly, intentionally or recklessly communicate false or misleading information. ▪ Obey laws and public policies governing our professional activities.
  10. 10. 10 Bell Pottinger and what it taught the world about ethical communication In July 2017 Bell Pottinger apologised after an email published in South African media showed it had sought to stress the continued “existence of economic apartheid”. “White monopoly capital” slogan was run on a Gupta-owned television channel The Democratic Alliance complained that Bell Pottinger was seeking to “divide and conquer” the public. The outcry led to the resignation of Bell Pottinger CEO James Henderson, also its biggest shareholder, while its second-biggest investor wrote off its stake.
  11. 11. 11 Bell Pottinger and what it taught the world about ethical communication Clients such as global bank HSBC publicly distanced themselves from the firm. In September 2017, the Public Relations Communications Association expelled BP for bringing the industry into disrepute, its most serious sanction.. “Bell Pottinger has brought the PR and communications industry into disrepute with its actions‚ and it has received the harshest possible sanctions. The PRCA has never before passed down such a damning indictment of an agency’s behaviour.” - Francis Ingham, director general of the PRCA.
  12. 12. 12 Bell Pottinger and what it taught the world about ethical communication 6 September 2017: “Bell Pottinger could be forced to shut down by end of 2017” 12 September 2017: “Bell Pottinger’s British arm collapsed on Tuesday after the global public relations agency ran a racially charged political campaign in South Africa that prompted a client exodus.”
  13. 13. 13 The Price of Ethics? £100k a Month
  15. 15. 15 In South Africa: King Report IV “Focus on Ethical Leadership, not Ethics Management”
  16. 16. 16 In South Africa: The Ethics Institute “This makes it clear that ethics management is neither a goal in itself, nor a mere tick-box exercise, but that ethics management should be approached and applied in a manner that will result in the cultivation and maintenance of an ethical organisational culture over time.” - Professor Deon Rossouw, CEO of The Ethics Institute
  17. 17. 17 Industry leaders Richard Edelman, the CEO of Edelman, called for PR professionals to create a PR Compact to address ethical standards. PRISA: “PRISA members must adhere to the local body’s Code of Ethics and Professional Standards and to that set by its international partnership with the Global Alliance” The Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management called a summit in February 2018 to discuss ethics in strategic communication.
  19. 19. 19 The ethical challenges in crisis and issues management ▪ Organisations experience uncertainty for various reasons ▪ Consistency of message is important ▪ Avoiding questions, offering only selected facts and information, or creating uncertainty in a crisis are generally considered unethical. ▪ Generally, you should abide by the three principles
  20. 20. 20 Change lenses ▪ The public has the right to know ▪ Public concerns about an organization should be accepted as legitimate, whether you feel they are or not ▪ Strategic communicators leverage stakeholders as a resource, rather than a burden, during crisis management ▪ Maintaining information transparency is important in building credibility and trust, and to enable future support during all phases of issues management
  21. 21. 21 Scenarioone-apology
  22. 22. 22 Scenarioone-apology
  23. 23. 23 Scenariotwo–dodging thefacts
  25. 25. 25 Not acting ethically dents a company’s social licence to operate. PR firms depend on the ability to win client accounts (and in the case of house practitioners – secure leadership and executive support). If your own reputation is dented, how you will protect and enhance another’s reputation. Ethics is not a nice to have; it is not an option; and there are clear guidelines to being ethical.
  26. 26. 26 Ethics is doing the right thing
  27. 27. 27 ▪ Ethics and trust are reciprocal. They are mutually reinforcing. ▪ Ethics and trust are inseparable. Ethical behaviour and choices help build trust. ▪ Building trust is part of what is required to maintain good ethics.
  28. 28. 28 Daniel Munslow E C +27 83 338 7794 @munslowd Thank You and Questions